What Makes Baltimore Like No Place Else

Learn about the charming — and quirky — things that set Baltimore, Maryland, apart from any other city.
By: Christianna McCausland
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The First Washington Monument

While it may not be the tallest, Baltimoreans are extremely proud to have the first Washington Monument. Located in the beautiful Mount Vernon neighborhood, Baltimore’s Washington Monument was designed by Robert Mills (the same designer who created the obelisk next door in D.C.) and completed over a 14-year period. It officially opened in 1829. Visitors can climb the 228 steps to the top of the 178-foot structure, but the annual monument lighting on the first Thursday of each December is far less rigorous and a fun family event at the holidays.

Duckpin Bowling

Visitors to Baltimore often want to know one thing: Why are the bowling pins so small? Baltimore bowling alleys pride themselves on providing duckpins, which are smaller than their tenpin granddaddies, and which use smaller balls (with no finger holes). The small stature of the duckpin game makes it more challenging, although the tinier balls can be more fun for children.

The Domino Sugars Sign

The neon ruby glow of the 1950s-era Domino Sugars sign is such a pivotal part of Baltimore’s skyline -- and a symbol of its industrial past -- that the sign remains even though the company no longer owns the refinery on which it sits.

Poe’s Grave

When Edgar Allen Poe wrote, “Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore,’” it’s doubtful he expected his poetry would inspire the name of Baltimore City’s NFL football team. Yet the fact that Edgar Allen Poe is buried on the grounds of Baltimore’s Westminster Hall (a former Gothic church) appeals to the city’s love of all things slightly bizarre. Each year since 1949 the “Poe Toaster,” an anonymous fan, leaves a partial bottle of cognac and three roses on the grave on the anniversary of Poe’s birth.

Weird Museums

Baltimoreans celebrate the odd, which is evidenced by its repertoire of credible and totally weird museums. At the National Museum of Dentistry, visitors can take in more than 40,000 objects related to the history of the healthy smile, including George Washington’s dentures and Queen Victoria’s personal dental instruments. The American Visionary Arts Museum is a rarity in that it only exhibits works created by self-taught artists. At the Baltimore Tattoo Museum, one can learn about the history of American electrical tattooing from the late 19th century to the present, and if the exhibits are inspiring enough, you can get inked before you leave by one of the resident artists.

Green Mount Cemetery

Opened in 1839, Green Mount Cemetery was one of the nation’s first garden-style cemeteries and became the resting place for some of the most prominent people in the city’s history. Eternal residents include Johns Hopkins and Enoch Pratt, as well as people with national notoriety, such as Lincoln’s assassin, Johns Wilkes Booth. With more than 78,000 graves stretched over 68 acres, Green Mount is Baltimore’s answer to Paris’ Pere Lachaise.

Preakness

The third Saturday in May, Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course opens its stall doors to welcome the elite of the horseracing world as they race for the second jewel in the battle for the Triple Crown. Horseracing enthusiasts head to the grandstands while hard-core partyers usually head for the hedonistic infield.

U.S.S. Constellation and USCGC Taney

Two irreplaceable pillars of American naval history float in Baltimore’s port, the U.S.S. Constellation, the last all-sail warship made by the U.S. Navy and the last Civil War era ship still afloat, and the USCGC Taney, the only warship still afloat to have survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

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